Lessons learned from fictional businesses
The real world of business may be full of colourful characters and often outlandish situations that can appear straight out of a movie script – but what lessons can we learn from fictional businesses?
Business Leader Magazine selects nine companies from film and television that can help your business grow.
Wayne Enterprises – Batman
‘Caped Crusader’ Batman by night and majority shareholder of Wayne Enterprises by day – Bruce Wayne leads a double life to protect the people of Gotham city against foes including The Joker, Bane and Penguin.
Having had the international conglomerate left to him by his late parents, Bruce uses his vast wealth and the company’s military defence division to create the gadgets and vehicles to fight crime.
The R&D division is at the forefront of the latest technologies within the sector.
However, when up against an evil mastermind – business can take a back seat. Meaning Bruce often leaves the running of Wayne Enterprises to Lucius Fox – his trusted right hand man and senior vice president.
Lesson learned: Build a strong and trustworthy management team around you.
InGen – Jurassic Park
The realisation of a dream of Dr John Hammond – in which he uses the DNA from dinosaur blood, extracted from mosquitoes trapped in prehistoric tree sap, and then mixed with amphibian DNA, to create living dinosaurs to create ‘Jurassic Park’.
The new-age theme park off the coast of Costa Rica – in which guests can see the animals that dominated the earth millions of years ago is an incredible idea – but the execution left a lot to be desired.
Introducing dinosaurs and humans together with no precedence, ethical consideration or extensive health and safety in place – only lead to disaster, despite sparing no expense.
Lesson learned: Detailed health and safety procedures are key and a company should adhere to ethical business practices.
Stark Industries – Marvel Universe
Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man) is the mind and money behind The Avengers and their futuristic technology. Whether fighting aliens or sentient robots – Stark has the ingenuity to provide the team with the tools to save the world. With every victory – a greater enemy rises to challenge Iron Man and the rest of team. After taking over the company from his late father, Howard, Tony uses his wealth and power to protect the world from any impending invasion or disaster.
Lesson learned: Technology is always evolving. To stay a market leader, you must adapt and expand.
Central Perk – Friends
Throughout the history of television and film, there are central locations in which characters are often seen.
Perhaps one of the most famous is a New York café from TV show, Friends – Central Perk. The small, independent coffee shop was attended – on a near daily basis – by Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Monica and Joey for the entire 10 seasons the show ran.
Despite being in one of the most famous, coffee-loving cities in the world, the group of friends never venture anywhere else for their caffeine fix.
Lesson learned: Create a loyal customer base to remain a sustainable independent business.
Cyberdyne Systems – The Terminator
US military defence company, Cyberdyne Systems create a conscious, artificial intelligence system that is self-aware in order to help build a global defence network – known as Skynet.
The idea behind it was to eliminate human error from warfare and defence. Once the creators realised the extent of its destructive capabilities, they tried to shut it down.
Skynet viewed this as an attack and due to its programming, it believed that all of humanity would attempt to destroy it. It responded with a nuclear exchange which killed millions.
The Skynet programme operates though all servers, devices, satellites and cyborgs – like The Terminator.
Lesson learned: Product test everything extensively before releasing items to the marketplace.
The Resources Development Association – Avatar
The RDA is a large non-governmental conglomerate that plans on mining the world of Pandora in order to replenish the Earth’s depleted natural resources.
Pandora is a densely forested world inhabited by the indigenous humanoid species, known as the Na’Vi. While a large part of the RDA is a mining and private security force, protecting the human workers, a smaller part is there to gather biological information.
In order to interact with the native species, the human’s use a hybrid computer in order to take control of a genetically created Na’Vi body – known as an Avatar.
The hot-headed and trigger-happy leader of the security taskforce then leads an attack on the natives in order to speed up the mining. This leads to full out warfare, in which the humans lose and are forced to leave the planet.
Lesson learned: Environmental, social and ethical impact are important to succeed.
Monsters, Inc – Monsters, Inc
For many years, the ‘monsters’ of Monstropolis City entered the human world to scare children – using their screams to power their city.
By chance, two workers, Sulley and Mike discovered that a child’s laughter was a lot more powerful. Children have become a lot harder to scare and so, this change is needed in order to keep the city afloat.
However, management refuse to accept the change and don’t want to change their business. The incorrect perception is that all human children are toxic.
After a child makes its way into their world, Mike and Sully save her. Following a struggle for power, Sulley takes over the company, and using a child’s laughter, the company increases its output ten-fold.
Lesson learned: Just because a business has been very successful, it doesn’t mean that you should be resistant to change.
Acme Corporation – Looney Tunes
In the crazy world of the Looney Tunes cartoons, Acme has the monopoly over hardware products.
Regularly seen in the battles between Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote – the latter uses products from Acme to try and stop the speedster. The long running gag has been seen on the TV show, films, adverts and in comics and is a regular feature in Warner Bros material.
The brand ‘Acme’ is an ironic derivative of the Greek word which means prime. The irony stems from the fact that all Acme Corporation products are failure-prone and often lead to explosions and disastrous outcomes.
Despite this – the delivery of the products is so quick that Wile E. seems oblivious to the fact that they constantly fail.
Lesson learned: If your business is reliant on delivery – same day delivery is the future.
Ghostbusters – Ghostbusters
An entrepreneurial start-up between three scientists in order to save New York from ghosts and other paranormal activity.
The three parapsychologists Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz and Egon Spengler are soon joined by Winston Zeddemore to deal with the growing demand for the Ghostbusters to rid the Big Apple of its ectoplasmic scourge.
However, following a disagreement with the Environmental Protection Agency for using unlicensed waste disposal units – they are arrested and their ghoul prisoners are unwittingly released, causing untold fear and havoc. The four then save the day and are led through the streets as saviours of the city.
Lesson learned: Find a gap in the market and become the established brand within it. Do the job no one else can.